AIDA REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank – Pink Floyd's former frontman Roger Waters said Tuesday he'll take to the stage the minute Israel tears down its West Bank separation wall, just as he did in Berlin two decades ago when another wall came down.
Visiting a Palestinian refugee camp in the shadows of the towering concrete structure, the British rocker who co-wrote the iconic 1970s album "The Wall" said he hopes "this awful thing is destroyed soon."
Waters, 65, said the West Bank wall has been on his mind since he first saw it up close in what he described as an eye-opening visit in 2006, following a concert in Israel.
"People who haven't actually seen this, what's going on here, can't actually imagine the impression that it has on you, the sick, kind of churning feeling that you get in your very heart when you see this, how depressing it is," Waters said.
Water's comments didn't sit very well with Israeli government.
Israel began building the barrier — a concrete wall in urban areas and fence with sensors and barbed wire along rural stretches — in 2002, citing security reasons.
Palestinians says it's a land grab because, once the final third is built, it will slice off 10 percent of the West Bank, part of the lands they want for their state.
The stretch of barrier between occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank town of Bethlehem consists of graffiti-covered gray slabs, with army watchtowers rising up at intervals.
Waters dismissed Israel's security argument, saying he believes the wall "is not here to stop Israelis being blown up on buses." He said if that was the sole reason, "what's it doing in the occupied territories, surrounding settlements and cutting (Palestinian) farmers off from their olive trees and so on and so forth?"
"This is an exercise of colonialism," said Waters.
Waters said he believes the barrier is indefensible.
"When you stand in front of an edifice like this, whether it's here or outside a township in South Africa, or in the Warsaw Ghetto during the Second World War, or in Berlin in the 60s and 70s, it's something you know instinctively that this is wrong. It's a bad thing," he said. "It cannot survive forever."
If it does come down one day, he said, he'll perform at the site, just like he did in 1990, at a spot where the Berlin Wall had fallen just a year earlier. "In fact, I would insist on it," he said.
In the meantime, he's considering performing elsewhere in the West Bank, perhaps in the town of Ramallah, but has not made firm plans. On Monday, Waters visited a refugee camp in the northern town of Jenin to support efforts to reopen a local movie house that closed in 1987.
Waters, who left Pink Floyd in 1985, ruled out a reunion with his former band mates; their last joint performance was in 2005, for a Live 8 concert. "We had a great career as Pink Floyd. We all enjoyed it. We all worked together and enjoyed everything and it was brilliant. I think it's over," he said.